Interview: Matt Wayrynen, Solar Flow-Through Funds
Matt Wayrynen is the CEO of Solar Flow-Through Funds, a developer of solar PV facilities in Canada, with offices in Vancouver and Toronto.
The unique flow-through ability of their funds provides investors with favourable income tax benefits during the development phase of the projects followed by steady income once operational.
Solar Flow-Through currently has 49 operational rooftop solar projects in Ontario and several more under development. See the video below for drone footage of one of these projects.
Fun fact: RE Royalties worked with Matt and the Solar Flow-Through team last year to help finance the construction of a new portfolio of solar projects in return for a gross revenue royalty on their existing 49 projects.
Name: Matt Wayrynen
Business: Solar Flow-Through Funds
Location: Vancouver, BC
Tell us about yourself, your career, and business.
Having been self-employed since the age of twelve, I think of myself, at my core, as a salesman and an entrepreneur. Going into a career over the years, almost everything I’ve done has been sales-oriented, as sales-oriented also correlates to commissions. Working for myself and being commission-based was a way to be self-employed. I was part of a two-way radio company that converted to a cellular phone company when cell phones first started to emerge. Over the years, I’d been involved with dozens of start-ups; most of them have failed, a few of them have succeeded. They have been high-tech as in cellular phones, life sciences involving cell replication technology, solar energy and the building of solar sites.
What inspired you to work in this industry? What made you decide to take the leap?
When I was young, I subscribed to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, and I was interested in things like flying cars and solar power. As I got older, I saw that Germany was taking off with solar-powered installations, so I started a company and went to Italy. I shared an office in Milano and started looking at financing and building sites in Italy, Germany, Spain, etc. Most of those countries at that time had something similar to a feed-in-tariff contract, with which the government purchases the power that you produce.
What advice do you have for others who want to enter this industry ?
Be prepared to go through an extensive learning curve. Make sure you surround yourself with the best people in that particular industry. Understand that there is no such thing as “business hours.” Every day and every hour are business. At the same time, I’ve learned that you must find a way to balance family and rest to stay fresh and energized.
What are the core values of your business?
To treat people fairly and to be honest and straightforward. And to add value where you can.
Tell us about the financing journey of your company and any major successes, difficulties, or failures.
In the beginning, no one would finance me. I injected $300,000 into the company to have a presence in Europe and to pay people to conduct due diligence. It took more than a year to raise the first $50,000. Over time, we were able to raise millions of dollars in a single meeting. Some of our failures were because we could not see all the potential roadblocks coming our way. I don’t feel there’s a solution to this. I think failure is an absolute necessity for success. Without failure, there can be no success.
What was your first job and what did you take away from the experience? How did you discover your passion for working in this industry?
Technically, I got paid for selling lemonade. In my second job, I got paid for selling newspapers. Over time, I realized from this experience that I needed to sell higher priced products to earn a greater percentage commission. I went from selling lemonade, to newspapers, to cars, to houses, to now companies.
The passion started when I first read Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. It was only until I got older that I realized I could start a business, because solar was propagating across the planet. It continues to do so today, because the price of solar cells continues to drop every year, while the efficiency goes up. This makes it more affordable for everyone, creating a greater global market. Thus, there was room for me.
How do you ensure your business stays ahead of the technology curve in such a fast moving industry?
I don’t think you can ensure your business stays ahead. All you can do is to always be aware of who is around you and where the technology is going. You try to get a glimpse of the future, and then readjust your path to that possible future.
What top 3 pieces of advice would you give to your younger self?
You have to decide if you’re going to commit to something, and by commitment, I mean being all in. Are you willing to sacrifice all your time, energy and money for something that most likely will fail?
You need to cultivate relationships, as nothing of any value is created by any individual that I have seen. Everything is done with teamwork.
Lastly, you need to understand early that failure is not only a necessity to success; it’s something that you should be looking forward to. When you’re young you start to figure out, when you’re selling newspapers, for example, that when you knock on a door and someone says “no thank you,” you’re happy – because you then know there are only eight more doors you need to knock on. This is because on the tenth door, most likely, there will be a “yes.” Early on you realize that it’s a numbers game; the probability of winning at whatever you’re doing comes down to the math. Thus, this is where perseverance and willpower come in: all you have to do is continue and eventually it will come.
What is next? Where do you see your company and industry in 5 years? Presently, we are looking at expanding from the base we’ve created. We have many solar sites built, a few more to finish, millions of dollars in consistent revenue, and we wish to raise more money and continue the expansion of the company. We will either grow organically or go public. We will start to expand our renewable base and look at other renewable technologies.
Connect with Matt Wayrynen at Solar Flow-Through Funds
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